By Eric Schwartzberg
Dayton Daily News, Ohio
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Earlier this month, entrepreneur Isis Arrieta-Dennis competed against four other local food-and-beverage entrepreneurs during the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” program which featured a pitch room competition and speed coaching event.
For Isis Arrieta-Dennis, cooking arepas is not just a family tradition, its a budding business.
She grew up in Colombia with her mother, who makes the dishes for her own restaurant, then crafted the dish herself for parties and gatherings in the United States for years as she considered starting her own restaurant.
Instead Arrieta-Dennis, a recent resident of Middletown, launched The Arepa Place, a business that specializes in the corn-based Colombian dish known as arepas.
“It looks like a tortilla, but it’s thicker than a tortilla,” she said. “We cut it open it like a pita and we fill it with ingredients.”
That includes mozzarella cheese, black beans, fried plantains, and shredded beef or chicken.
“We also make cheese arepas by mixing mozzarella into the corn dough before grilling the patties,” Arrieta-Dennis said. “It’s the Colombian version of a grilled cheese.”
The business was one of the first to join Findlay Market’s newest project, the Findlay Kitchen, as Arepa Place Latin Grill.
It will launch a storefront of its own at the market this summer. The enticing enterprise is run by Arrieta-Dennis with help from her husband, Christopher, who is from Middletown. She also is assisted by her mother who travels back and forth from Colombia to help.
Earlier this month, The Arepa Place competed against four other local food-and-beverage entrepreneurs during the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” program’s Cincinnati stop, which featured a Pitch Room Competition and Speed Coaching event.
Jim Koch, Sam Adams Brewing Company brewer and founder, a Cincinnati native, attended the event and acted as a judge.